Young Kiwi ambassadors travel to France for WWI commemorations [fr]
A group of eleven New Zealand students, aged seventeen to eighteen were selected to travel to France from July 11th to 26th as part of a France – New Zealand school programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
The upcoming commemorations are the occasion for New Zealand students to explore with their French counterparts, the signification and deep repercussions of this major part of their shared history. That is the reason why the Embassy of France in New Zealand and the New Zealand Association of French teachers have initiated an important school exchange programme called “Shared Histories” which will keep building until 2018.
Taking part in the project is Young Ambassador Caitlin Watters: «I think it is important for people, particularly those my generation to consider and appreciate the significance the First World War had. Not just for those who fought but for the local communities and families in New Zealand. The war had an enduring impact on communities up and down the country.»
The Young Ambassadors program consists of a group of eleven students, selected from the schools involved in “Shared Histories”, who travelled to France from July 11th to 26th. These students, all of whom have a link with the Great War through their families’ history, were the “Young ambassadors” of their country testifying to the young Kiwis’ attachment to the Duty of Remembrance. They visited the sites where New Zealand soldiers made a significant contribution to the war, including the Somme battlefields, Longueval and the New Zealand memorial, the Caterpillar-Valley cemetery, Le Quesnoy, and Arras, where they stayed with French host families. Some of the students had the unique chance to visit the memorial or tomb of an ancestor who fell in France.
“My great-great-grandfather, James Livingston, fought in France for the Allied forces in the Battle of the Somme. He was killed in action, and his body was never found. […] I would like to discover what it was like for my great-great-grandfather to be a Kiwi soldier in World War I. I believe I can do this by visiting the place where he fought, and by visiting his memorial in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery.” Young Ambassador Sophie Allan.
Back in Paris, the young ambassadors were invited to attend a special function held in their honour at the French Ministry of Education, and on Bastille Day, they had the opportunity to watch the Military Parade on the Champs Elysées and the tribute ceremony at the Arc de triomphe.
On June 12th, all ten ambassadors met in Wellington for a day of preparation before the trip, ending with a reception hosted by the French Ambassador at the residence of France. They were able to meet one another and to work and exchange on the personal inquiry projects they have been creating as part of the programme.
A blog is already being updated regularly by the ambassadors and will be used as a journal throughout the trip, displaying photos, videos and texts.
To find out more about each ambassador, visit the website: www.sharedhistories.com.
Young Ambassadors is part of the programme Shared Histories, a France – New Zealand school programme to commemorate the First World War, the objective of which is to create a cooperation framework allowing French and New Zealand schools to partner up in order to work together on projects around the First World War.
A call for projects was sent out to New Zealand and French schools in October 2013 resulting in 25 partnerships. The educational project is built through a long-distance collaboration between French and New Zealand teachers and students, connected notably through the website www.sharedhistories.com. This platform shows the projects undertaken, gives access to pedagogical resources and is also a live space where teachers and students involved in projects can exchange. In the weeks to come, more schools from both countries will be able to seek a partner via the website, which will become a perennial tool for school partnerships between France and New Zealand.
For more information about Shared Histories please click HERE.
“Shared Histories” is supported by both the French and the New Zealand Ministries of Education.